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Black Friday Tips, Part 2: Get the Best Deals without the Hassle

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Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) is still the biggest shopping day of the year which is why we’ve devoted not just one, but two articles to it! In Black Friday Tips: Part 1, we covered the best ways to prepare for “BF” and how to find great Black Friday deals early (sometimes weeks before).

In this article, we’ll focus on the actual shopping you’ll do on Black Friday and—in particular—why we recommend doing as much of it online as you possibly can. Here we go!

PREPARING FOR BLACK FRIDAY
Ok, we’re going to assume you’ve read our first article about preparing for Black Friday (and if you haven’t, now would be a good time to jump on over and check it out). Still, here are some quick steps you can take to prepare for your big shopping spree:
  • Make (or Update) Your Shopping List: If you’ve been tracking pre-Black Friday sales, comparison shopping and compiling a list of the best deals—great! Now’s the time to finish that list by checking it against the new deals that come out online and in circulars on Thanksgiving Day. If you don’t already have a list, no worries! Start it right now using your local circulars or doing a quick survey online (our favorite online source is the FatWallet Black Friday deals page). This will help you find the best deals and keep you focused when you’re shopping. Also, remember to keep in mind the total cost (price plus tax and shipping, minus coupons and rebates) as you compare one sale to another. One price might look a lot better at first glance, but not be as good once you’ve figured in everything else.
  • Rank Your List by the Value of the Deal: The best deals--not necessarily the items you want the most--will sell out the fastest so you should prioritize your list accordingly. Be sure you know what these are so you can act on them the fastest. Of course, that doesn't mean you should overlook the items that mean the most to you, but keep the deals in mind. A popular brand TV at a huge discount will be on everyone's radar. That specialized blender your "foodie" sister really wants, however, will probably be there longer than the TV. 
  • Get Your Coupons Ready: You can make a great Black Friday deal even better by using a coupon on top of it. If you don’t have any handy, check out LOZO’s coupon page or do a quick search on Google (using the product or store name and the word “coupon”).
SHOPPING ONLINE: Great Black Friday Deals from the Comfort of Your Home
If I have the choice between being elbowed and jostled by a bunch of frenzied shoppers or sitting on my couch with a hot cup of Joe (or—depending on the time of day—maybe an ice cold beer), can you guess which one I’m going to take? Yup, the couch and beverage will win out ever time. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to do this on Black Friday. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you do your online shopping:
  • Most Deals are Available Online: The truth is, most deals that you’ll find in a store on Black Friday are also available online—even if the store claims it is “in store only”! So before you head out for the mall…check online. It may save you a trip. Note: although it'll vary from store to store, in general, we see more free shipping offers on Cyber Monday than on Black Friday.
  • Get Cash Back: We always recommend signing up to get cash back. Not only will you get a great Black Friday deal, you'll get a little extra money back on top of it! From Best Buy to the Gap, most popular stores offer cash back programs that you can easily sign up for here: LOZO's Cash Back page.
  • Pay with Credit Cards that Offer the Best Rewards: Same as with cash back rebates, rewards are in addition to the discounted price, so it sweetens the deal even more.
  • Pay with Discounted Gift Cards: Believe it or not, you can actually buy discounted gift cards at Cardpool. Discounts can be as low as 3% or as high as 35%, but whatever the discount it's basically like getting free money--and we love that!
  • The Best Times to Shop Online: Stores will usually update their online sales according to an automated time—such as when a new days starts (midnight) or when online shopping is very slow (usually 3am)—or at a manual time (9am when someone from the E-Commerce department gets into the office and ‘flicks the switch’ to activate all the online deals). Our recommendation: keep it simple! Check for deals online on Thanksgiving at midnight (or before you go to bed) and again whenever you’d normally wake up to do your in-store shopping (9am? 3am?).
  • Act Fast: Good deals sell out online just as they do in stores. When you see a good deal—act fast! Then, catch your breathe and re-evaluate. If you made a mistake, you can usually cancel the order immediately before it ships. Otherwise, you can always return it later.
  • Remember Those Coupons: We already mentioned this above, but—hey—why not throw in another reminder? Use ‘em if you got ‘em!
  • If It’s a Long Shopping Spree, Place Multiple Orders: If you’re shopping for a long time online, place orders periodically to ensure you get the deals you want. Putting an item in your shopping cart doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the deal—only buying it does! You don’t want to load up your cart only to find that half of the items you wanted are sold out two hours later when you’re ready to place your order. Be mindful of free shipping and coupon thresholds too. For example, if you have a coupon for $10 off any purchase of $30 or more, try to place your orders in increments of $30 (or close to it), using a coupon on each order.
  • If it’s Out of Stock, Check Again Later: If an item’s listed as sold out, it’s usually going to stay that way. Still, it’s worthwhile to check back periodically to see if it’s available again. Sometimes people will return items the same day, causing a previously sold out item to re-appear. Also, some retailers may be keeping reserve inventory that they’ll release throughout the day so East Coast shoppers and West Coast shoppers both get a chance at it (Note: this is a less common practice, so don’t rely on it).
  • Look for Competitive Price Adjustments: Price matching has become a lot more common as big retailers like Walmart, Toys R Us and Target all try to compete with each other. In our first article, we recommended buying an item before Black Friday to ensure availability and then requesting a price adjustment on BF. The same also applies to shopping you’re doing the day of: if you make a purchase online and then find a better deal later on—ask the original seller to meet the better price. We recommend trying online chat since phone lines (and stores) are usually jammed on Black Friday. If you're attempting a price adjustment in store, bring as much evidence as you can of the better price (the circular, a print-out of the website page, etc.). 
SHOPPING IN A STORE
As much as we love online shopping, we understand that sometimes you will find the best deals in a store. If you’ve done your research, checked online and you still see the best deal in a store, then you should do your shopping there. If this is the case, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
  • Do a "Dry Run" Before BF: If you have you have the time, do a “dry run” of the store before Black Friday so you know where everything is located in the store. You can also plan your route so you can get to the most important items the fastest. (Although, be aware: sometimes big ticket items are moved to new locations for Black Friday.)
  • Get There Early
  • Get Info from Fellow Shoppers: If a store is only offering five of a hot deal item and you're number 25 in line, ask the folks in front of you what they're planning to buy. If more than 5 of them are shopping for the same item you want, then you may want to skip the long, cold wait.
  • Plan Your Day Around When Sales End: Hit the stores first that have doorbusters and sales that end the earliest. If one store's big sale ends at 9am and another ends at 10am, hit the 9am store first so you can visit both. Save stores that have day-long sales for last.
  • Grab Your Top Item First: As we mentioned above, keep in mind the value of the deal and seek the best deals out first. However, if you’re going for multiple door buster items, get the item you want the most first, even if it means bypassing another item on your list. Better to get the most important item and then back track to the lower priority items on your list.
  • Print Out Rebates in Advance: If you're buying an item that gives you a mail-in rebate, print it online beforehand or pick up the forms in the store at the time you make your purchase. Companies are tricky and those rebate forms can sometimes "mysteriously" disappear post-purchase and you don't want to miss out on the refund.
  • Team Up: If you've got a couple of able-bodied shoppers in your family and circle of friends--team up! Send one person to the store and keep one person at home doing the online shopping. Or, bring a few folks to the store so you can spread out and get all the items you want.
Finally, remember the online shopping tips we’ve listed above since many of them apply to in-store shopping as well (eg. have your list and coupons ready; check all the circulars to ensure you know which store is offering the best deal; etc.).

THE LOZO
Following these tips and those in our first Black Friday article will help you get great deals without a lot of hassle.

And now that you've got BF covered, check out our articles on Cyber Monday and how to find the best deals on that big shopping day.

Have you got any great tips of your own? Let us know! In the meantime, happy shopping!
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